Gary Russell Jr. Might've Scored The KO of the Year

011RussellvsCastanedaIMG 5702Check out the “Oh shoot” face on the lady at lower right. (Tom Casino).

We might have just have witnessed the knockout of the year from Gary Russell Jr. Saturday night. There’ve been some very good knockouts this year, namely Kessler’s of Green and Garcia’s of Morales, but what separates this one from the rest is the way in which the knockout came –the way it was set up.

Here, I’d like to highlight exactly why I thought this knockout had that little something extra that the others didn’t and why I feel it should go down as the knockout of 2012.

Firstly, at 5’5’’ and with a 61’’ reach, it was obvious to everyone that Gary Russell Jr. needed to get inside and beyond the height and reach of Roberto Castaneda. During the first and second rounds, Russell Jr. operated mainly on the front foot, releasing speedy jabs and combinations from his southpaw stance. Despite winning both rounds easily, Russell Jr. hadn’t really imposed himself on Castaneda yet, who was using his length as best he could in order to stifle and keep Russell on the outside. Russell Jr. made a subtle tactical adjustment and the knockout transpired soon after.

The knockout took place in three phases.


Russell Jr. began moving away on the back foot. Castaneda immediately followed. As Castaneda threw a jab up top, followed by a right hand to the body, Russell Jr. stepped away, avoided the shot and reset. Notice how Castaneda succeeded in getting his lead foot beyond the lead foot of the southpaw, Russell Jr. Even though he missed the mark with the right hand, there were some moments of encouragement here for Castaneda. But was Russell Jr. merely giving him false hope?

2.garyrusell11122012 2

Again, Castaneda lunges in with a right hand. This time though, Russell Jr. lands a short, compact left hook the body before stepping back out of range. Notice how Castaneda no longer has the outside position as he’s stepping in. This time as he’s trying to land his right hand, Castaneda ends up inside of Russell’s right – shoulders and feet. In his eagerness to get forward and touch Russell Jr. Castaneda has forgotten about his positioning.

3.garyrusell11122012 3

Castaneda is now becoming defensively irresponsible and overly aggressive as he’s coming forward. As he steps in for a third time, Castaneda attempts to land a jab followed by a right hand. Russell Jr. is onto this. As Castaneda sticks his jab out, Russell Jr. slips inside and lands a grazing left hook to the body and moves to the outside position using Castaneda’s follow up right hand to roll under with the punch. All of a sudden, Russell Jr. now finds himself with the perfect angle to come back across with a right hook as Castaneda is stranded because his hands are by his waist with his feet square and glued to the mat. Needless to say, as Castaneda was throwing another right, Russell Jr. came back across and landed a perfect right hook which snapped his head back and rendered Castaneda unconscious before he hit the canvas.

All of this took place within the blink of an eye. Although the actual knockout blow was extremely violent and will likely be the focus of most people’s attention, the set-up from Russell Jr. beforehand was simply stunning. Russell Jr. managed to force his opponent into forgetting the plan by becoming overly aggressive and then used his opponent’s aggression against him. It was a perfect example on how to get inside on a longer opponent without the need to apply pressure; the same results can also be achieved by making an opponent come to you. It takes intelligence and timing to orchestrate such a cerebral finish. Gary Russell Jr. seems to have this in abundance.

Of course, everyone knows how extremely gifted Russell Jr. is. His speed, power and athleticism are what have caught the eye so far, but Saturday night, I found myself even more impressed with Russell’s boxing brain. Sure, Roberto Castaneda isn’t a world beater, but it still required a lot of skill and thought from Russell Jr. to be able to set a fighter up and take him out in that way.

There’s often more to a knockout than just a hard punch. As Gary Russell Jr. showed in the knockout of 2012 last night, there’s a science involved too.

And it sure was sweet.

Comment on this article


-SouthPaul :

I feel argumentative so imma' opt to say in order to receive ko of the year from me you need to be doing it against someone better than a sacrificial lamb. Example? Martinez zapping out Paul Williams. That's wasuuuup.

-deepwater :

I feel argumentative so imma' opt to say in order to receive ko of the year from me you need to be doing it against someone better than a sacrificial lamb. Example? Martinez zapping out Paul Williams. That's wasuuuup.
agreed.a ko of the year has to be against a live guy. I ko'd the carnival punch machine thing the other night, got the high score and had a bunch of dudes cheering me on. the punch machine thing had a better chance then this guy.

-Radam G :

With my three-thousandeth (sic) post, imma gonna ditto SouthPaul. How can someone even imagine giving KO of the year to a histrionic hype who's nearing five years in the game, and hasn't come close to dancing with even a mild warm body? C'mon pugilistic scribes! You are blinding your @sses by looking so hard that you are not seeing syet. Just reality distortion and alternated reality. Don't be Mitt Romney's bytches! I'm reminded of Jay Z: "I got 99 problems, but a Mitt ain't one." Hehehe! Holla!

-Radam G :

I meant "...and a bytch ain't one!" NYET! I'm just playin.' Mitt was right. Dude was in da dark, not da light. Kinda reminds me of a lot of__ __ who cannot fight. Gary Russell will be Mittized whenever he tangles with a live soul. He will believe he is fighting a ghost. A C-veteran pugilist would counter punch his fake speed to death. GR has flashlight syet. Not crash-an-@ss speed. And with the top dawgs that is what he will need. Holla!

-brownsugar :

Gary Russell is almost as spectacular as Roy Jones in the speed department (although not as big of a showboat). Beating guys that decisively is rarely seen no matter what the quality of opposition is like. Russell has mastered boxing to such an extent he's probably the front-runner in the razzle-dazzle department..... Lets see what happens when he moves up to the next level..... I think 2013 may be his year to shine. Have to say, I enjoyed his fight immensely.

-"B" :

I am not sure what you have against my boy Gary Radam but he is not the first fighter to brought along slow lol. I mean Broner isnt exactly fighting hall of famers. And him not getting in the ring with "warm" bodies is not. All his fault last time I checked. I mean whohas ever been eager to jump in with a young , skilled, fundamental , hardpunching lefty. Gary Russell will probably will be the most avoided guy in boxing . Anyone who doesnt think so please tell me

-Radam G :

Wow! I have nothing against GR. And he is no Broner. And Broner is fighting warm bodies, and have knocked 'em the double fudge OUT! And I am no fan of Broner. Boxing reveals bytchism like no other sport. And a spade is a spade. And you cannot forever hide by going against some jive that is taylor made. I'll stick with my guns. GR is being protected, not "brought alone slowly." What is he? The slowing-moving creature that can beat hares. Well FIGHT one of them, GR. And we will see if you have legit speed and a fighter's heart. Holla!

-"B" :

Lol. I think Broner is a good fighter with serious gifts but who has he fought? According to your Logic he has been protected too. He choose not to make weight and fought an undersized nobody his last time out l. Dont tr to switch it up for Gary and not hold Broner to the same rationale . You say he is no Broner and that may be true but I am sure you alone in your thinking that Gary is Russell is overhyped or a fraud. Anyone with eyes can see that Gary is a special young fighter. He needs to step up but that step and time will come soon. The same can be said about any young Fighter...including Broner

-Radam G :

Oh, B, quit trying to put it on me. I don't make the rules of the fights. Broner has fought those at the top of his division who would fight him. Whatever logic that you are sticking on me is imaginary and doesn't mean syet. Broner has gone to another division and is fighting one of the champs up there. Gary Russell is standing still. The jive turkey has yet to climb a mole hill. And, again, Broner doesn't give me a fill. He makes me empty with his bullsyet, and I would rather take a sleeping pill. Hehe! Fo' get dat chump. I hope DeMarco whups his rump. Holla!